For many companies, and especially their employees, the cloud is still a mystery. Nevertheless, the use of the cloud in practice is under a good star. IT professionals even favor the cloud as one of the TOP-5 IT trends with probably extremely strong growth for cloud providers. But what makes the use of the cloud so desirable in practice? Are there only positive effects or can disadvantages be found? And how is the cloud currently used by companies?

Figure. 1: The Cloud as a Mystery (Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

Using Cloud

In the area of cloud use, it is above all about the desire and the opportunity resulting from the cloud to be able to work efficiently and at the same time flexibly and agilely. While these parameters have long seemed feasible only for startups, larger companies are increasingly taking advantage of these benefits using cloud technologies.

For example, a study by Bitkom (Cloud Monitor 2019) in the time interval from 2016 to 2018 shows that more than 70 percent of the companies surveyed (as of 2018) have not only integrated cloud technologies into the daily business, but also actively use them (see Figure 2). These results do not only speak for a rapid increase in the use of the cloud in practice. But it also shows that companies are willing to overlook the risks of using it in order to take full advantage of the many opportunities offered by the cloud.

Figure. 2: Cloud usage (Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

In addition to the type of use, the study also looked at the advantages and disadvantages of the cloud.

Type of use

However, although almost three-quarters of all companies surveyed agree on the use of the cloud, the application areas still differ. After all, cloud technologies no longer function purely as digitization aids of internal processes and processes. Instead, it can be used to further develop current business models or even to raise completely new ones. This is achieved, for example, through new sales channels such as online shops.

In addition, the cloud is also used to develop trending topics such as Industry 4.0. For example, big data scenarios are pre-tested using cloud technologies.

In all areas, the possibility of storing critical data within the cloud benefits (see Fig. 3). With the help of these, intelligent forecasts can be evaluated, among other things.

Figure. 3: Type of use (Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

As more and more companies have recognized this opportunity, the upload volume of data worthy of protection or secret data into the cloud has also risen rapidly (see Fig. 3), opening up more and more new possibilities for companies to use the cloud in practice.

Positive effects

But beyond that, the use of cloud technologies has many positive effects. Four opportunities came to the fore in the results of the study (see Fig. 4).

Figure. 4: Positive effects of the cloud (Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

For example, 80% of the companies surveyed said that cloud-based flexible and rentable systems can change internal IT much faster or reorient it at no additional cost. In addition, completely new technologies can be tested cost-effectively.

But also geographically dispersed work can be simplified by using cloud in practice. For example, three-quarters of the companies participating in the study said that browser-based software provides significantly better access to data from distributed locations. Finally, this enables savings in costs in addition to better efficiency in the daily business.

In addition, companies also see great opportunities through the cloud in terms of customers. More than 60% of the companies reported that their own performance of IT had increased significantly, which ultimately resulted in higher customer satisfaction. Finally, more than one in two companies (60%) increased flexibility. Changes in the company can be realized much faster thanks to new possibilities such as flexible changes from workplace IT and IT. In addition, one appreciates the advantage that internal hardware and software can be tailored much better to the workforce and individualized for them.

Negative effects

But with the use of cloud technologies, in addition to the many opportunities, there are also some risks. The companies surveyed within the study are particularly afraid of difficulties with data protection, rising IT costs and outages (see Figure 5).

Figure. 5: Negative effects of the cloud (Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

Failures can have serious consequences if, for example, work comes to a standstill. More than 40% have already complained that there have been significant outages in the field of information technology in the last 12 months.

It makes sense for companies not to become dependent on the use of the cloud in practice and to draw up contingency plans at an early stage.

But companies should also take early action in the area of data protection to avoid customer trust and high fines. More than a third of companies were exposed to at least one such incident in the last financial year without contingency plans such as audits and IT security concepts for the secure storage of data.

In addition, more than a third of the companies surveyed also complain about IT costs, which significantly exceeded the planned budget. This is why measures should be taken to analyse the cost-benefit ratio of the purchase of cloud technologies in detail.

Conclusion – Cloud in practice

The use of cloud in practice is mainly based on the digitization of internal processes, new sales channels and the development of trends such as Industry 4.0. According to recent studies, more than 70 percent of all companies use cloud technologies, which has long since turned the IT resource from a start-up cup into an all-round profit.

Although 30 percent of companies still fear risks such as data protection, costs and outages, almost three-quarters have already recognized where the great opportunities of the cloud lie: rapid scaling and good performance of IT, geographical collaboration and, above all, significantly more flexibility!

Tip: Read my new book: The way to the cloud at Springer Gabler or book me for a talk .


Lindner, D., Niebler, P., & Wenzel, M. (2020). The Way to the Cloud – A Guide for Entrepreneurs and Decision Makers. Heidelberg: Springer Gabler.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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